One in two people will develop cancer in their lifetime. If you, or someone you care about, has been diagnosed with cancer, it’s important to seek the help and support you need from your doctors and healthcare team. National charities, such as Cancer Research UK and Macmillan, have comprehensive websites containing easily understood cancer information, advice and personal stories. Many people find comfort in books about cancer, too. Here are some books about cancer that you, and your loved ones, may also find helpful, from personal stories to health information.
Doctors Get Cancer Too by Dr Philippa Kaye is the personal diary of a 39-year-old cancer patient who is also a GP. It’s an insightful and honest mix of medical facts, graphic details, humour and practical advice. And will hopefully provide some reassurance and comfort to other cancer patients, and their families. Published by Vie in February 2021.
F*** You Cancer by Deborah James, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer at the age of 35. While cancer itself is a serious issue, this book takes a more light-hearted approach to coping with cancer, featuring all of James’s ups and downs through her diagnosis and treatment. Published by Ebury/Vermilion in October 2018.
The Complete Guide to Breast Cancer by Professor Trisha Greenhalgh and Dr Liz O’Riordan. Professor Trisha Greenhalgh, an academic GP, and Dr Liz O'Riordan, a consultant breast cancer surgeon, are not only experienced doctors, but have both also experienced breast cancer first-hand. Their book aims to help people who are going through cancer treatment, with the practical information and advice that helped both of them. Published by Ebury/Vermilion in September 2018.
Ticking Off Breast Cancer by Sara Liyanage, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 42. This book (a companion to the author’s website of the same name) is a chronological account of her medical appointments, scans and treatments, as she deals with the physical, emotional and mental challenges of a cancer diagnosis. She includes practical to-do checklists, to help other people going through cancer treatment. Published by Hashtag Press in September 2019.
Cross Everything: A Personal Journey into the Evolution of Cancer by Henry Scowcroft, whose partner was diagnosed with bladder cancer when she was in her mid-30s. This is a medical memoir about love and loss, and also a personal journey by Scowcroft to explore the science about the cancer that took his partner away too soon. The author works as a science writer for Cancer Research UK. Published by Green Tree in February 2021.
The Cancer Ladies’ Running Club by Josie Lloyd, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017. Lloyd finished the Brighton Marathon 10K, despite going through chemotherapy at the time. Her experience inspired her humorous, life-affirming and uplifting novel about Keira, who was determined that her breast cancer diagnosis wasn’t going to define her. Published by HQ in May 2021.
The Royal Marsden Cancer Cookbook by Dr Clare Shaw, who is a consultant dietitian specialising in cancer. This illustrated book focuses on the importance of nutrition during cancer treatment and recovery, with practical dietary advice and healthy, nutritious recipes for not just patients, but their families too. Fifty percent of the royalties go to supporting the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. Published by Kyle Books in February 2015.
My Parent Has Cancer and it Really Sucks: Real-Life Advice from Real-Life Teens by Maya Silva and Marc Silva. This book is written for teenagers by a father-daughter team, after their wife and mother, Marsha, died from cancer. Cancer is a difficult topic to talk about, especially with (and by) teenagers. This book gives practical guidance on various topics for teenagers whose parents have been diagnosed with cancer, including talking about cancer, dealing with stress, and losing a parent to cancer. Published by Sourcebooks in March 2013.
The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee won the Guardian First Book Award 2011 and the Pulitzer Prize for Non-fiction 2011. Mulherjee is a doctor, researcher and science writer. In his book, he explores the science, history and social impact of cancer and its treatment. Published by Fourth Estate in September 2011.
A Scattering and Anniversary by Christopher Reid, whose wife, the actress Lucinda Gane, died from cancer at the age of 55. The Scattering, a poetic exploration of love and loss, was first published in 2009 and won that year’s Costa Book of the Year. Ten years on, it was paired with Anniversary, which also explores (in poetry) the impact of grief and bereavement. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and reprinted in October 2018.
Mortality by Christopher Hitchens, who died from cancer in 2011. He was diagnosed with cancer soon after the publication of his memoir, Hitch-22, which was nominated for the Orwell Prize. This book is a moving account of how he faced his illness, his experience of cancer treatments and how he confronted his own death. Published by Atlantic Books in August 2012.